Danny Vanzandt found charred & burnt: How did he die?
65-year-old Danny Vanzandt was found dead in his home near Muldrow, Oklahoma. His torso was described as "burned and incinerated" by local police. Police say there is no immediate evidence that Vanzandt was murdered.
This leaves a fascinating possibility for cause of death: spontaneous human combustion.
Is spontaneous human combustion real?
This may surprise you, but spontaneous human combustion (when a human body bursts into flames without external ignition) is a real thing. There have been two rather recent cases:
- A man seemed to have spontaneously burst into flames at a Gothenburg, Sweden train station in 2011.
- A man in Galway, Ireland was ruled to have died due to spontaneous human combustion in 2010.
Human torch, low heat
The fire that burned Danny Vanzandt to death burned at a low heat, according to investigators. His house and furniture were undamaged. Vanzandt's head and limbs were also unaffected. While a lighter was found in the house, there was no sign of accelerant on his body.
"I think there's only about 200 cases worldwide and I'm not saying that this has happened I'm just saying that we haven't ruled it out," said Sheriff Lockhart.
What causes spontaneous human combustion?
Nobody knows for sure what causes the phenomenon of spontaneous human combustion, or even that it's always the same cause. Nobody seriously suggests a supernatural cause.
One theory, described by the BBC in 1998, is "the wick effect", in which a body can burn slowly without fully bursting into flames, and without attracting attention. Nearly all cases involve victims who cannot move easily, either due to age or illness.
In 1982, an elderly British woman named Jeanette Saffin seemed to have spontaneously combusted in front of her brother. He described seeing blue flames shooting from her mouth and abdomen.